Are you paying too much for cell phone data plans?

July 7, 2010 3:53:18 PM PDT
Millions of people have smart phones and the data plans that come with them. But are you really using what you pay for? A survey of 60,000 cell phone bills suggests those smart phone users are paying too much. Simple changes could save you money.

Some cell phone companies are cutting out the unlimited data plan choice for customers and offering a tiered plan. It's best to go with the low tier and pay less, but many smart phone users are opting for the higher cost plans when they may not need it.

Like a lot of families, the Hastings have a smart phone and are not shy about using it.

"We watch a lot of YouTube, download a lot of apps and play games," said Travis Hastings.

The Hastings have a high-use data plan and while it may sound like they need it, a recent survey by the Nielsen Company suggests they could probably save money by going with a lower tier plan.

"For the majority of people using smart phones right now, it does seem to be accurate that they are not using or taking full advantage of the data plan," said Jay Lee, host of the local radio show "Technology Bytes."

Lee's show tackles tough tech issues like how much of a data plan does a smart phone user actually use.

"They are sending texts, sending low resolution images from the phone itself," said Lee.

He says if smart phone users only send text messages, talk on the phone and look up information on websites, they are not using much data at all and could get by with lower-priced plans.

"Those who are using more of the online, like pulling down GPS data, streaming videos, watching movies online on their phone, they are going to be ones in danger of running up against the data caps and incurring greater charges if they exceed that," Lee said.

So the trick is finding out how much data you use in a month. Cell companies allow users to check.

If you find out your data usage is low, you can save by opting for a less expensive plan.

It's what the Hastings are going to do.

"Definitely will be worth my while to check it," said Kim Hastings.

According to the Nielsen cell phone data survey, some 20 million smart phone users are not using much data at all and flat rate plans could save them money every month.


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